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Cheap Eats

Salt Lake City in Requiem

Cheap Eats, Southwest By January 9, 2017 Tags: , , , , , , No Comments

I had a lot of fun opening this episode with “Cheap Eats is bringing the pepper to Salt Lake City!!” but it turns out the SLC dining scene had the heat turned up well before I arrived. Over and over, folks pointed to the 2002 Winter Olympics as a tipping point. The loosening of liquor licensing gave restaurants a boost in biz which meant diners and restauranteurs could try new things. Like many cities in Season 2 of Cheap Eats, we take advantage of an up and coming dining scene, meet excited owners, and exciting chefs. What sets SLC apart from the others is a preconceived opinion of what people might have towards both city and state. Utah is synonymous with Mormonsim/The Church of Latter Day Saints. The Fried Mormon Funeral Potatoes is about as far as we trekked into this important and historic aspect of SLC, but it is but one part of a diverse and growing metropolis. On the drive in from Idaho, my eyes floated from an In-N-Out burger sign to a mountain skyline and suddenly I got flashbacks of my days in Los Angeles. Sunshine and a relatively more arid climate than other Rocky Mountain cities certainly push towards that comparison. What I am getting at here is SLC may not be what you think it is, especially if your imaginations point toward the direction of HBO’s Big Love. And challenging preconceived notions is what I love to do. Almost as much as I love to eat and speaking of . . .

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Jackson Hole, Wyoming in Requiem

Cheap Eats By January 2, 2017 Tags: , , , , , , , , No Comments

As it turns out, nature in Jackson Hole Wyoming is no laughing matter. Despite my numerous Rocky and Bullwinkle and garden-variety moose jokes, even I, was and remain still, blown away by what I and my iPhone saw in Jackson Hole. And that’s saying something because I am probably the most un mountain man to pass through these parts. Last night at a New Year’s party, I was asked if I went camping. It was probably one of the most humorous (and honest) no’s I have ever uttered. Still this is a landscape that would persuade me to become a member at REI, even if it meant spending a $1000 on equipment destined for a “like new” listing on craigslist. As far as Cheap Eats goes, my friends we have done you a tremendous service because Jackson Hole is damn expensive. Not a single restaurant we featured on this episode offered table service. And that’s not us being lazy. It’s THAT PRICEY HERE. There are a variety of reasons for this perfect storm of $$$ living: Ski Country plus tax incentives for the über wealthy, for starters. But saving money just ain’t the point here. The point is pristine mountain beauty. And plenty outdoor activities to work up an appetite. So grab a knife n fork, your AMEX(black if you got it handy) and let the Jackson Hole feast begin.

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Bozeman, Montana in Requiem

Cheap Eats By December 26, 2016 Tags: , , , , , , No Comments

The natural beauty of Montana can transform the most novice photographer into a wannabe Ansel Adams. I might have a ways to go before I enter the realm of that iconic photographer but I will say that there was no shortage of scenic shots in my Bozeman roll, that’s for sure. Natural beauty was, is and will always be the draw to Bozeman. That being said, everybody likes to eat and our current food renaissance is finding its ways to all corners of the map. What does that mean for Cheap Eats in Bozeman? Definitely a shift in focus to locally sourced foods. Bringing food to the more far reaching parts of the world certainly poses challenges in food costs, so expect the word “local” to be featured prominently as a reflection of necessity. In my three city run in this part of the country, I consumed more than my fair share of Buffalo burgers, so we worked extra hard to showcase the bounty of exotic game in these parts with a freakin Elk burger. Bozeman is a growin’ and changing. And while that might rub some the wrong way, it will ultimately mean more dining options in this grand wilderness. And people eating better is always a good thing. This is a dining scene in the early stages of becoming an exciting and noteworthy one. My advice is to keep your eyes wide open because there are more than a few fancy steak and chophouse sized let downs. And some darn interesting food happening in breweries whose college kid heavy customer base could soon find themselves waiting in a line, shoulder to shoulder, with food obsessed hipsters, and possibly, the next Ansel Adams.

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R(ichmond) VA in Requiem

Cheap Eats, The South By December 20, 2016 Tags: , , , , , , , No Comments

Welcome to the New South.

And in the spirit of the new, let’s get accustomed to calling it the RVA, cuz that’s how the locals do. Oh, you think this is some last second ploy from the tourism board? Then do this: type “RVA Richmond” into Google and you will get hit with all kinds of the “new Richmond”. I’m talking links to Richmond groups associated with strings like reddit, LGBTQ and TEDx. That sound new enough for you?

When it came to Cheap Eats, and really just food, one thing popped into my mind as we researched RVA: Is this the new Charleston? Long held as a darling food town of the South, the comparison of Richmond to Charleston would be inevitable though that’s more a reflection of the mutual size of the two cities in relation to say Atlanta or Nashville. Richmond doesn’t boast the same level of tourism numbers that Charleston does nor tout culinary heavyweights like SNOB or Sean Brock, but that doesn’t mean stuff like that isn’t on the horizon. Look, this is where people like me have a lot of fun: predicting the future of a food scene. So consider this post to be something akin to reporting from Florida during Major League Baseball’s spring training or, maybe a little later, like after the first month of the regular season. The hype has well been out there and now the signs of promise are starting to deliver real numbers or in this case: real entrées.

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Baltimore in Requiem

Cheap Eats, East Coast By December 12, 2016 Tags: , , , , , No Comments

Baltimore.

You have heard of it. The City that gave us the Star Spangled Banner, Edgar Allen Poe, and The Wire. Truth be told my perceptions of Charm City came almost entirely from watching hours and hours of David Simon’s epic series. An urban center in decline, the subsequent flight to the County suburbs, and finally the overall size and demographics of Baltimore, reminded me of my hometown of St. Louis. And I guess that’s what always made me hold an appreciation for the place. I also love their accent. Situated in the Mid Atlantic, Maryland is as far north as the American South gets, they say. “Hey Hon, can I get you anything else?” a waitress asked me in a fictitious diner of my Baltimore imagination. Thanks to the Chesapeake, they have a regional cuisine that’s all their own. I even like their baseball team: The Orioles. Camden Yards is a terrific looking stadium. Yeah, we went to another mid sized city in this Season of Cheap Eats. But I would go to Alaska if it meant taking on tapas like this:

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Pittsburgh in Requiem

Cheap Eats, Midwest By December 5, 2016 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , No Comments

Pittsburgh. The shining blue collar city on the hill. A town that is as big as a city needs to be. Three major sports franchises. Loads of neighborhoods that teem with history, character and characters. And forget about an “accent”, Pittsburghese sometimes seems like its own language. In some ways I wasn’t surprised to find great Cheap Eats here. But I was impressed by how much the city has become a serious food town. Like much of the cities we cover in Season 2 of Cheap Eats, Pittsburgh is a city in transformation, and the food scene is a big part of it. As I look back on the Burgh, I think of an experience that slips in moments of sophistication during a humble feast for the soul. But ya know what? I’ll let the pics just tell you all about that.

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